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International relations

Coronavirus exposes ASEAN divisions on rice security

Officials fail to reach immediate agreement at emergency summit

A curfew in Thailand is driving consumers to hoard rice for fear of a prolonged stay-at-home order. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

BANGKOK/MANILA -- The rapid spread of new coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia has exposed the region's divisions on food security, particularly as rice-growing nations move to lock up supplies of the staple.

In Thailand, the world's second-biggest rice exporter, a curfew imposed on April 3 is driving consumers to hoard rice for fear of a prolonged stay-at-home order. Meanwhile, Vietnam, the third-largest exporter, imposed a rice export ban on March 24, with Cambodia following suit.

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